Romanian Prime Minister Florin Citu has dismissed the country’s health minister over the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vlad Voiculescu was fired from his role on Wednesday after a series of incidents created tensions within Romania’s governing coalition.
Voiculescu reportedly on Tuesday changed the government’s criteria on whether to impose virus-control restrictions on local areas without informing the prime minister.
“Romania is going through a difficult period in the fight against the pandemic,” Citu said, announcing the minister’s dismissal.
“The fight has stretched the state’s resources to the maximum, especially in the health care system but also in the economy.”
“In order to have success in the fight against the pandemic, I have always said that trust in state institutions is needed.”
The leader of the USR-PLUS political alliance, Dan Barna, will serve as interim health minister, Citu added.
Voiculescu was appointed in December, after briefly serving as Romania’s health minister in 2016. Upon his arrival in the cabinet, the former minister had promised to reform the nation’s strapped health care system.
But amid financial trouble, Romania has also seen a spate of fires at hospitals, including one in January which killed five patients in the country’s capital Bucharest.
“The change I made today in charge of the Ministry of Health is intended to strengthen the confidence of Romanians in state institutions,” Citu said on Wednesday.
“I strongly believe in this government coalition, because it was created by the vote of Romanians around values, ideas and not around people.”
Romania’s secretary-of-state for health, Andreea Moldovan, has also been dismissed.
The firing of Voiculescu also marks the first major shift in Romania’s ruling coalition, which holds a slender majority in parliament.